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Saturday 5 November 2011


Bhupen Hazarika no more! The Indian Voice from North East joining the Mainstream would Echo for long!Golden voice of Indian music falls silent!

bistirno dupure

dil hoom hoom kare 

Ami Ek Jajabor

Gopone Gopone Kato Je Kheli Dr. Bhupen Hazarika

POLITICS: KARNATAKA Watered Down An RSS group baiting Modi? Read on.

Dam it Modi on the Sabarmati, in which Narmada water now runs
Watered Down
An RSS group baiting Modi? Read on.
Less Than Half...
  • Investors in SSNNL bonds of 1993, for funding the Narmada dam, are upset at the early redemption of the bonds
  • The Rs 3,600 bonds promised Rs 1.11 lakh at the end of 20 years
  • In 2008, the Modi govt legislated to redeem the bonds five years early, offering just Rs 50,000
  • The case is in the SC. An RSS-backed group in Karnataka is opposing Modi on this.
When new Karnataka CM D.V. Sadananda Gowda invited his party colleague and Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi to participate in the Mysore Dussehra festivities in October, he knew perhaps that some ‘progressive types’ would make some noise. But he certainly would not have expected people of his own ilk to protest. Modi skipped the Dussehra function. But by then, this unexpected protest had been made public through a letter to a leading Kannada daily. It was about the early redemption of deep discount bonds of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), issued by the Gujarat government in 1993 to raise funds for the Narmada project when agencies like the World Bank and IMF had refused to fund it. T.N. Ramakrishna, an RSS swayamsevak who runs the Rastra Gaurava Samrakshana Parishath, in a letter headlined ‘Narendra Modi should not come to Karnataka’, accused Modi of “causing huge losses” to thousands of retail and institutional investors by forcing the early redemption of the SSNNL bonds.
Here’s the background. In September 1993, the Gujarat government floated the SSNNL bonds at Rs 3,600 each, of which the deemed value at the end of 20 years was Rs 1.11 lakh. While SSNNL could not force early redemption, investors were given the option of exiting at the 7th, 11th and 15th years from the date of allotment. Nationalised banks were then offering 13 per cent interest on deposits, while the bonds offered net returns of 17.5 per cent, so they attracted many middle-class and institutional investors. Among the investors were the the provident- and gratuity-fund trusts of Mysore Paper Mills, SAIL and Hotel Janpath.


By redeeming Narmada bonds five years early, Gujarat has earned the wrath of investors in Karnataka. Over to SC.

In 2004, the Modi government tried to redeem the bonds prematurely but gave up in the face of stiff resistance. But in 2008, the government had an act passed to redeem the bonds on January 10, 2009, five years before maturity, fixing the deemed value at Rs 50,000. Feeling cheated, bond holders challenged the legislation in the high courts of Bombay, Gujarat and Karnataka. SEBI impleaded itself as a party and filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all cases to the apex court. This was upheld, and the matter is now before a bench headed by the chief justice of India.
“Modi claims the GDP growth rate of Gujarat is higher than the national average, but he has forgotten who made it possible,” says Ramakrishna. “If people like me had not invested in the bonds, do you think Gujarat could have built the dam? If the dam hadn’t been built, could the state have attracted investors? The availability of water for homes, industry, hydropower and so on is because of the dam. Why deny people who helped the state their legitimate returns?”
Vishwanath S. Malagan, a member of the Mysore Paper Mills Limited Employees Provident Fund Trust, says the trust suffered huge losses owing to the forced early redemption. Bond holders are hoping the Supreme Court will decide the case before January 2014, the original redemption date. Modi, never short on rhetoric, especially while addressing two groups—the middle class and investors—hasn’t said anything so far to assuage the feelings of the bond buyers, who belong to those very groups.


Bronze assault Statues of BSP leaders at Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal, Noida
Up For Grabs
With corruption eating into Mayawati’s chances, rival parties see electoral hope
Moves & Countermoves
  • The BSP and the SP are the main players, with the ruling BSP taking the development plank and the latter hoping anti-incumbency will work in its favour.
  • The Cong is charging the BSP govt with large-scale corruption, especially in land acquisition, inability to check epidemics
  • Muslims are being wooed by all parties, chiefly with promises of job reservations
  • The BJP hopes to be the third-largest party in the House, to play kingmaker. It is attacking the Cong by highlighting the UPA’s scams.
The countdown to what may be the biggest political test before 2014—the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, scheduled for May 2012—has begun. Seen in a schematic way, the equations are unchanged from the last edition in 2007. A four-cornered contest, with the fractured vote it implies, is what political parties in this high-stakes game have to contend with again. The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its sworn adversary, the Samajwadi Party (SP), are the main players. The BJP and Congress are seen to be fighting for the third place, which could well be that of kingmaker should there be a hung verdict, a possibility political pundits never rule out in this kind of scenario. But despite the odds, Mayawati’s BSP could still emerge the single largest party.
In the game of attrition that multi-pronged contests turn into, what could tilt the balance are not huge waves but the cumulative effect of smaller forces. Two parties, for instance, can have a potentially disproportionate influence despite their limited scope: Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is confined to barely half-a-dozen districts of affluent western UP; and the little known Peace Party, headed by Dr Mohammed Ayub, which has a presence among Muslims in poverty-ridden eastern UP. The Peace Party could act as a spoiler for all four larger players, although it goes without saying that all parties are doing their best to woo the Muslim community.
Unlike in 2007, the two big players, the BSP and SP, go into battle with their roles reversed. Then, the BSP benefited from the SP’s shrinking aura. The anti-incumbency feeling against Mulayam Singh Yadav was stoked by his inability to counter general charges like the collapse of law and order. (His playing footsie with ex-BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, for anticipated benefits from his Lodh votebase, corroded his image further in the interim.) This time, however, it’s the BSP that has to struggle to retain its turf. Many in Mayawati’s inner coterie privately admit that notching up 150 seats in a house of 403 may not be easy.
This isn’t because of simple ‘anti-incumbency’. For parties like the BSP, which enjoy an ultra-loyal votebase, are relatively immune to wild fluctuations in popularity. It’s because the crucial additional strength that came to the otherwise essentially Dalit outfit in the form of Brahmin support in 2007 cannot be taken for granted this time. Satish Mishra, who had then emerged as the BSP’s Brahmin face and kingmaker, has failed to establish himself as a Brahmin leader. His focus on aggrandisement of his kin (half-a-dozen of them were placed in positions equivalent to cabinet ministers) meant he could not consolidate on the goodwill he enjoyed previously.
“Anybody in Satish Mishra’s position could have used the opportunity to rise as a genuine Brahmin leader, but he couldn’t rise above petty family considerations and somehow also nursed this ill-conceived notion that inaccessibility was a virtue in politics,” says a senior BSP Brahmin leader who stands sidelined today. So the halcyon days of ‘Haathi nahin Ganesh hai...’ slogans may be over. Another area of concern for the BSP is that its famed loyal votebase may finally be feeling a genuine strain, due to a visible division between younger and older Dalits. The latter remain totally with Mayawati, but a section of youth seem disillusioned with her. Awadhesh, a 24-year-old Dalit from a village outside Lucknow, says: “Behenji’s emergence to power in 2007 had raised a lot of hope among the Dalit youth that they would now get jobs without discrimination. But what we experienced was discrimination of another kind: those who can pay bribes have a clear edge.”

Will it be a home run? Akhilesh Yadav at a Samajwadi Party rally
The SP offers a mirror. An analyst says, “Mulayam’s SP crumbled last time not only due to bad law and order but also because he lost some two dozen seats in the core Yadav belt of central UP, essentially because many Yadavs chose not to vote. They were annoyed with him for he dashed their hopes of getting government jobs. Those who couldn’t pay money under the table did not get jobs.” And if Mulayam was tainted by a blatant patronage of criminals and corruption, during Mayawati’s regime rapes and murders by important persons in government subtracted from her image as a tough leader who deals with crime with an iron fist.
Mayawati, in defence, cites the “stern action against even the high and mighty in her party” if they were found involved in any crime. “Can you cite one example where Mulayam took action against his party leaders? Behenji has not spared even senior party mlas and ministers,” says a supporter. Others talk of overall improvement in the power and water situation. The successful conduct of the recent F1 event is also seen as a feather in her cap. But rivals, including the Congress, point to the encephalitis epidemic claiming the lives of close to 500 children in the state.

Reaching out Rahul Gandhi in Mirzapur
Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav, now travelling across the state to reach out to the people, rejects the idea that the BSP has handled corruption effectively. “Look at the level of corruption in which people at the highest level are involved. There’s so much construction, only in order to plunder taxpayers’ money. The extent of pilferage is unimaginable,” he says. “What’s her contribution to development, other than raising her own statues and building monuments and mansions for herself?”
As for the Congress, it was after two decades that it managed to get back into the reckoning in UP, where it finished with 22 seats in 2007. This poll has long been touted as Rahul Gandhi’s coming-of-age party, meant to showcase an earnest focus on ‘rebuilding the party’ in its old fief. Mayawati has been dismissive of Rahul’s surprise visits to Dalit homes, but the virulence of her attacks itself offered proof that the Gandhi scion possessed an unknown capacity for weaning away her voters. This will now be put to the test. Regardless of how he fares finally, Rahul has been a regular thorn in Mayawati’s flesh. His sneaking into Bhatta Parsaul village to support farmers agitating against land acquisition by the state government for the benefit of builders forced Mayawati to train her sights on him. She shot off several letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against Rahul’s unscheduled visits (and also hastily passed a new land acquisition bill). She has also blamed the Centre for pretty much everything that was wrong in UP. The UPA leadership has now hit back with allegations against the BSP regime of misuse of funds meant for social welfare programmes like nrega.

Rajnath and the ‘repatriated’ Uma Bharati. (Photograph by Nirala Tripathi)
The BJP is still putting its act together and rejuvenating its base in UP. Knowing the dissensions within the rank and file, the party leadership has divided the responsibilities between ex-CM Rajnath Singh and party veteran Kalraj Mishra, who, despite having been a minister in successive BJP regimes, has never won an election. Unlike Rajnath, Kalraj is also seen to be a less than rousing figure.
At the end of the day, the bloc with the most seats in the assembly will get a shot at government-making, so the role of alliances may be vital. This is where the Congress and BJP could come into the picture, depending on how they themselves fare. Of course, if either the BSP or SP gets a majority, as their supporters claim, the script will be different. Much can change between now and May 2012.

Man pleads guilty to illegally trafficking kidneys from Israel where they were later transplanted into American patients at prestigious US hospitals

Man pleads guilty to illegally trafficking kidneys from Israel where they were later transplanted into American patients at prestigious US hospitals
Friday, November 04, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson,

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, an Israeli citizen living in Brooklyn, NY, has pleaded guilty to illegally purchasing kidneys from desperate Israelis, and trafficking them back to the US for transplant in patients at prestigious, but unnamed, American hospitals. Rosenbaum has also reportedly pleaded guilty to conspiracy for illegally brokering kidney sales.

According to theJewish Telegraphic Agency(JTA), desperate kidney patients collectively paid Rosenbaum $410,000 to purchase kidneys harvested from Israelis who had sold them for a mere fraction of this amount. Rosenbaum's lawyers claim that all the donors agreed to give up their kidneys, but a 1984 federal law prohibits knowingly purchasing or selling organs for transplant.

Rosenbaum allegedly bought the kidneys for as little as $10,000 each, and resold them for a minimum of $120,000 each. He then used the money to purchase property, which he has since agreed to forfeit following his guilty pleas.

According to Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist and organ trade expert, Israel is a hotbed of illegal organ trafficking. Many of those who are willing to donate a kidney, which is one of the few organs that can be harvested from a live person, are very poor immigrants from Eastern European countries who are desperate for money.

Rosenbaum had reportedly been arrested several years ago as part of a massive organ trafficking sting. A US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent pretended to be businessman in order to nab Rosenbaum, as well as 46 others, many of whom were rabbis, for participating in illegal activity.

On October 27, Rosenbaum pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court to three counts of organ trafficking and one count of conspiracy. He faces up to 20 years in prison, and as much as a $250,000 fine. He could also be deported back to Israel.

"A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's US Attorney Paul Fishman about the case. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."

Most countries of the world currently have laws on the books prohibiting organ trafficking. But because organs are in extremely high demand, the black market for organs continues to thrive.

Sources for this article include:

Human Rights Group Details Police Brutality at Papua Rally

Human Rights Group Details Police Brutality at Papua Rally
Camelia Pasandaran | November 04, 2011
Police arrest people who attended the Third Papuan Peoples Police arrest people who attended the Third Papuan Peoples' Congress event in Abepura, at the outskirts of Jayapura, on Oct. 19. (Reuters Photo)

The National Commission on Human Rights on Friday released a report detailing alleged human rights violations carried out by Indonesian security forces during a raid on a separatist rally near Jayapura on Oct 19.

The commission, also known as Komnas HAM, also called on the National Police to conduct a thorough internal investigation into the crackdown, which the commission concluded resulted in the deaths of four people and the beating and imprisonment of dozens more.

“We found four examples of human rights violations: the right to life, the right to live free from torture and brutal actions, property rights and the right to not live in fear,” Komnas chairman Ifdhal Kasim told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

The police have come harsh under fire for what many rights groups and foreign governments have decried as the violent tactics used to disperse the crowd attending the Third Papuan Peoples’ Congress.

Ifdahl said three people found dead in the wake of the congress were killed with no legal justification by security forces, a violation of the victims’ right to life.

“They are Demianus Daniel Kadepa, Yakobus Samonsabra and Max Asa Yeuw. Another person, Martinus Yorisitouw was shot in the buttocks and the bullet traveled through his rib cage and ended up in his head,” Ifdahl said.

The bullet blinded Martinus, who eventually died from his wounds, Ifdahl added.

The Indonesian government has continued to deny that police or military officers shot anyone on that day.

The report also claimed that a security officer put the muzzle of his rifle into the mouth of Marthen Luther Norotao, 23, and pulled the trigger. Martinus survived, Ifdahl said, but the bullet shattered several of his teeth and tore a hole in his cheek.

“The National Police should independently investigate their members who have clearly violated human rights and sanction those officers,” he said.

“We also demand the evaluation of troop placements in Papua and West Papua, as there are too many law enforcers there.”

The commission also recommended that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accelerate dialogue with the “real” Papuan people representing the tribal groups and listen to their opinions and concerns.

UNESCO vote to admit Palestine: Who objected?

UNESCO vote to admit Palestine: Who objected?
Published by 
UN Watch
- at November 1, 2011 in Middle East and UNESCO. 5 Comments 
Following is the full count of yesterday’s vote at UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member.
No: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, 
Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon 
Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.
Abstentions: Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, 
Colombia, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, 
Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, 
Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New 
Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, 
Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, 
Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.
Yes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, 
Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, 
Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, 
Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, 
Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of 
Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, 
Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, 
Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, 
Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao 
People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, 
Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, 
Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, 
Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, 
Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, 
Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, 
Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab 
Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, 
Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, Central African 
Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, 
Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Confederated States of 
Micronesia, Mongolia, Niue, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South 
Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan.

How Bengal govt gains from hikes
How Bengal govt gains from hikes
Calcutta, Nov. 4: Trinamul MPs want to pull out of the UPA government over the petrol price increase but their own party’s government has been reaping the benefits of successive hikes since May.
After yesterday’s price increase, the Bengal government stands to collect in taxes Rs 15.13, including a Re 1 cess, from every litre of petrol sold in the state. (See chart in lead story)
If only the taxes from refinery to the consumer are taken into account, Bengal’s share is actually higher than what the Centre earns from each litre of petrol. Such central taxes account for Rs 14.78 of the total retail price per litre.
Since May 14, while the Centre has raised petrol prices four times, the Mamata Banerjee government has not given any indication that it would forgo a share of the sales tax to ease the burden on “the common man”. Mamata withdrew the surcharge on cooking gas, which apparently cost the government Rs 75 crore a year or Rs 6.25 crore a month.
However, the sales tax collection from petrol outweighs what the state has given up.
“In Bengal, there are 2,500 petrol pumps, each selling on an average 8,000 litres of the fuel a month,” said Surojit Kole, the general secretary of the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association.
It means that on an average, 2 crore litres of petrol are sold every month in the state. At current prices, this adds up to Rs 146.30 crore, of which over Rs 30 crore will go to the state exchequer every month.
Asked why the Bengal government was not reducing the sales tax on petrol — the Congress-led front in Kerala did so today — a senior minister said: “We are devoting the next seven days to making the Centre see reason and convincing it to roll back the price. We hope to succeed in this. If this does happen, it will happen only because of our leader Mamata Banerjee. We will consider the sales tax reduction after the final decision is taken on the hike and correspondingly our continuation in the UPA government.”
The Centre has not indicated so far whether it will cut its share of the tax.
One reason for the reluctance on the part of the Centre and the state could be that petrol is a milch cow that does not have too much of a cascading effect on the ground, unlike diesel and kerosene.
Belying the intensity of the political storm around the hike, petrol accounts for only 1.09 per cent in the inflation index and it is used largely in private cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers.
“Those who use public transport and cannot afford the luxury of a car will not be hit. However, there is a section of the middle class and above who would be using petrol for bikes and cars. But they are far outnumbered by the grassroots people in cities and villages,” said economist Dipankar Dasgupta.
Two-wheeler sales, used by all economic sections, have jumped in October despite hikes in petrol prices and interest rates. The latest hike will add Rs 60 to the monthly fuel bill if a bike uses 30 litres a month.
Among car owners, many high-end buyers have been switching to diesel, which is sold on a subsidy. Many foreign carmakers have recently come up with diesel variants to tap the demand. Nigel E. Wark, executive director (marketing, sales and service) of Ford India, said 70 per cent of the national demand for the company’s car was for diesel vehicles.

Food price fuels retail FDI thought

Food price fuels retail FDI thought
New Delhi, Nov. 3: Food inflation has surged to a nine-month high of 12.21 per cent, prompting the government to consider opening up foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail to tackle supply side glitches. The RBI’s tight monetary policy since March last year has also failed to bring the price spiral under control.
“Food inflation is still going high. It is dangerously above the double-digit figure,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
A senior commerce ministry official said much of the food inflation, apart from the seasonal variation, was primarily because of poor supply-side management, which could be addressed by opening up multi-brand retail.
“Modern retail will control inflation through better efficiencies and once there is economic advantage in sourcing from wholesale, small retailers (especially in rural areas) will switch to those options on their own,” the official said.
“Food inflation cannot be tackled by monetary policy. Interest rates may have peaked as demand is showing signs of waning,” N. R. Bhanumurthy, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said.
For the week ended October 22, vegetables became 28.89 per cent costlier on a year-on-year basis, while pulses grew dearer by 11.65 per cent. Fruits were expensive by 11.63 per cent and milk cost 11.73 per cent more.
Eggs, meat and fish also became 13.36 per cent dearer, while cereal prices were up 4.13 per cent.
Anis Chakravarty, analyst with Deloitte Haskins & Sells, said, “It is an area of concern that as world food prices fall, food inflation in India has peaked to a nine-month high. Fears remain that supply side bottlenecks continue to be a critical factor. Headline inflation and the efficacy of monetary policy continue to be the larger source of concern.”
At present, India does not allow FDI in multi-brand retail, which employs 33 million people and is dominated by local grocery stores.
However, foreign investment up to 51 per cent is permitted in single-brand retail, while there are no restrictions in wholesale cash-and-carry business.
The retail business in the country is worth Rs 16 lakh crore, and about 96 per cent of the people are in the unorganised sector. Sources said the commerce ministry favoured a minimum investment of $100 million with at least 50 per cent earmarked for back-end infrastructure such as cold storage, soil testing labs and seed farming.

Friday 4 November 2011


Betrayed Youngsters who would’ve given eye teeth to play
Jailed Trio of players who killed the saying ‘it’s not cricket’
London, Nov. 3: Mohammed Aamer is a very lucky young man – he will be released from a young offenders’ institution in three months because the judge felt he was a simple village youth who had been led astray by his captain.
Trust, Mr Justice Cooke argued, was gone.
“Now, whenever people look back on a surprising event in a game or a surprising result or whenever in the future there are surprising events or results, followers of the game who have paid good money to watch it live or to watch it on TV, in the shape of licence money or TV subscriptions, will be led to wonder whether there has been a fix and whether what they have been watching is a genuine contest between bat and ball. What ought to be honest sporting competition may not be such at all.”
The offences were so serious “that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice to mark the nature of the crimes and to deter any other cricketer, agent or anyone else who considers corrupt activity of this kind”.
The speculation yesterday was that the Pakistani Test cricketers – captain Salman Butt, 27, and fast bowlers Mohammed Asif, 28,and Aamer, 19 – had conspired with their agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, to bowl three no balls to order last year, would be sent to prison for seven years.
Instead, Mr Justice Cooke gave Aamer six months today and said he will be released on parole after three.
Majeed received two years and eight months, the heaviest, but he, too, will serve half his sentence before he is released on licence. That means he has to be “on good behaviour” while he serves the rest of his sentence outside prison.
The judge had harsh words for Butt because he was the skipper and had corrupted young Aamer and gave him 30 months. He will come out of prison after 15 months.
Asif got a year – he will be out in six months.
Majeed, Butt and Asif will be held at Wandsworth prison in South London where they may get picked on my on by other prisoners.
Oscar Wilde, incidentally, moved to Wandsworth prison, having started serving his sentence in 1895 for preaching “the love that dare not speak its name” at Pentonville.
No doubt, there will be disappointment that the judge was not tougher today but by sending three top cricketers to prison for corruption, the first time such action has been taken in the sport, he was making a point.
Just before 10am, the door to court number 4 at Southwark Crown Court opened and there was an unseemly stampede by journalists waiting outside for an hour or more to find a seat inside. Some had laptops open ready to flash the verdicts to the cricketing world outside.
The electronic clock showed the time – 10:14:46 – as Mr Justice Cooke started reading his verdict. The four guilty men sat next to each other in a large glass box but did not exchange even pleasantries with each other. Next to Aamer was a young Asian woman, his “interpreter”.
The judge’s voice was so soft that he could scarcely be heard in the dock. The four men sat still, heads slightly bowed, as Mr Justice Cooke read his judgement.
His main point was that cricket was a very special game which had been ruined by corruption.
Outside court, as British, Indian and Pakistan journalists jostled to get in, an Englishman could be heard admonishing: “We queue in this country – it’s an old English custom.”
This sense of cultural superiority could well be reinforced in some manner by the trial of four Pakistanis. As one Pakistani journalist left after the verdict, he called out to The Telegraph: “Today is a sad day for Pakistan.”
There was a sense that this was not just a trial of three cricketers and their agent but a battle between English and Pakistani cultural values.
The four had corrupted a pastime “the very name of which used to be associated with fair dealing on the sporting field”, the judge commented. “ ‘It’s not cricket’ was an adage. It is the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it which make the offences so serious.”
They had “procured the bowling of 3 no balls for money”.
“The image and integrity of what was once a game, but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded three of you as heroes and would have given their eye teeth to play at the levels and with the skill that you had,” he remarked.
Mr Justice Cooke spoke of the damage to national pride. “In Pakistan, where cricket is the national sport, the ordinary follower of the national team feels betrayed by your activities, as do your fellow countrymen in this country. You Butt, Asif and Aamer have let down all your supporters and all followers of the game.”
He turned to Majeed, Butt, Asif and Aamer, in turn.
The first was Majeed who had accepted £150,000 from an undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood from the News of the World. Police had confiscated wads of cash when they entered the hotel rooms of the cricketers in summer last year.
“The fact that of the £150,000 that you actually received, only £2,500 in marked notes was found in Butt’s possession and £1,500 in Aamer’s possession, together with the evidence of payment of £13,000 into Butt’s bank account and some £23,000 into your company’s accounts, suggests that you took the lion’s share of the cash paid by the journalist,” the judge said.
Mr Justice Cooke hinted the problem could be much deeper within Pakistan cricket. “Whether or not what this court has had to consider is just the tip of an iceberg, is not for me to say and lies beyond the scope of the evidence I have heard, but, even allowing for your ‘sales talk’ to the journalist, I am sure that there was an element of truth in what you said about past fixing.”
India was dragged in on a couple of occasions.
Once, when the judge told Majeed: “It is clear from the telephone schedules that you were in touch with contacts in India and Dubai and were passing on information relating to the Oval and Lord’s Test matches in relation to gambling activity there.
India was again mentioned when he said: “It is hard to assess the amounts of money of which persons might have been but were not defrauded in the gambling industry, by virtue of information given to the journalist and to say whether or not any money was made as a result of the information given to the Indian and Dubai contacts, of which there is no evidence. The extent of your gain remains unclear.”
The four men looked impassive as the judged his verdicts. Perhaps they did not even understand the legal wording.
To Butt, who pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, the judge said: “It is clear to me that you were the orchestrator of this activity, as you had to be, as captain, in arranging for these bowlers to be bowling the overs which were identified in advance to Majeed and which he identified to the News of the World.”
He contrasted Butt’s background with that of Aamer. “You were a natural captain, picked out as such from the age of 17 for national teams, and had the advantage of a good education. You were a man of status. As I have already said, you bear the major responsibility for the corrupt activities, along with Majeed.”
He held the skipper responsible for leading his teenage bowler astray. “I consider that you were responsible for involving Aamer in the corruption – an 18 year old from a poverty stricken village background, very different to your own privileged one, who, whilst a very talented bowler, would be inclined to do what his senior players and particularly his captain told him, especially when told there was money in it for him and this was part of the common culture. For an impressionable youngster, not long in the team to stand out against the blandishments of his captain would have been hard.”
The judge suggested there could be other guilty men who had not been brought to court. “It appears that the corruption may have been more widespread than the defendants here before me, and may have permeated the team in earlier days, though I have seen no direct evidence of that. If that is the case, you, as Captain, perpetuated such an atmosphere of corruption and would be responsible for it and for the desire to use Majeed and his contacts to make money for yourself and others in the team.”
The judge condemned the captain: “In the words you used to the jury – what you did was a terrible thing – it is bad for the game of cricket, bad for the country and shows the character of the man involved. Not only were you involved but you involved others and abused your position as captain and leader in doing so, bringing to bear your considerable influence on Aamer at the very least.”
In passing sentence, the judge took into account that all three cricketers were banned by the International Cricket Council from playing international cricket for, at least, five years.
He told Butt: “You have been subjected to a ban on playing cricket for 10 years, of which 5 are suspended. You will be 31 or so, when the active part of that ban comes to an end and you will have lost some of the best years of a batsman’s life as well as the years of captaincy. Your playing career may well be at an end for all practical purposes.”
As for Asif, who faced a seven year ICC ban, of which two were suspended, “its effect on your career as a fast bowler now aged 28, means that your cricketing career is effectively over”.
“This enables me to take a more lenient course, than I otherwise might,” Mr Justice Cooke explained. “That is the punishment imposed by the cricket authorities but these crimes of which you have been convicted require that a sentence be imposed which marks them for what they are and acts as a deterrent for any future cricketers who may be tempted.”
He commended Aamer for pleading guilty which he acknowledged “took courage”.
There was a sinister reference to the underworld in Pakistan. “You have referred, in material presented to the court, to threats to yourself and your family, saying that there are significant limits to what you can say in public. The reality of those threats and the strength of the underworld influences who control unlawful betting abroad is shown by the supporting evidence in the bundle of documents, including materials from the Anti Corruption and Security Unit of the ICC.”
Aamer, who had pleaded guilty to two charges, was told: “If you had not pleaded guilty you would have received concurrent sentences of 9 months’ imprisonment on each offence.”
All the four men learnt that they “will serve half the time imposed in custody and then you will be released on licence. If you breach your licence or commit any other offence, you may be brought back to serve the remainder of your sentence.”
The News of the World’s cheeky demand for the return of £150,000 from Majeed was rejected – “the News of the World got what it bargained for when paying the £150,000 in question”.
But the four will be required to contribute to prosecution costs – £56,554 for Majeed; £30,937 for Butt; £8,120 for Asif; and £9,389 for Aamer.
Aamer’s barrister said the young bowler would appeal against his sentence. Butt’s solicitor also said the cricketer would lodge an appeal against his sentence within 24 hours.
The trial took place in Britain because the offence took place on British soil. If the Pakistani cricketers had refused to agree to a trial in Britain, they could have faced unforeseen consequences in Pakistan.

INDIA: POSCO project is not more important than public opinion — Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: POSCO project is not more important than public opinion — Asian Human Rights Commission



INDIA: POSCO project is not more important than public opinion

November 3, 2011
An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the Chief Minister of Orissa Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik Through the office of the Principal Secretary Home Department, Government of Orissa Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road Bhubaneswar 751001, Orissa INDIA Fax: +91 674 25351006 Email: Dear Sir, INDIA: POSCO project is not more important than public opinion The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to express its concern to your government, regarding the Orissa State Government's decision to resume construction and land acquisition for the Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) project. We request you to review the decision for the reasons stated hereunder. The AHRC is monitoring human rights violations, and the legal procedures adopted concerning the POSCO project. We are informed through respectable sources that at present, the villagers affected by the POSCO project are opposed to it, suggesting that the government and POSCO have failed to convince communities of the project's benefits. Despite reports pointing to a series of human rights violations as well as adverse environmental impact by all government-sponsored committees that have studied the project, the Ministry of Environment and Forests cleared the project in January 2011, subject to 28 conditions. We are also aware of the state government's unwarranted and illegal use of brute force by the state police against those protesting against the implementation of the project, the latest of which that has been reported to us happened in June 2011. We are aware that on this occasion also the police attacked the villages while they were peacefully protesting against the project. We are aware that the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), made adverse observations about the manner in which the state police behaved to the villagers, including the occupying of schools, that prompted the Commission to direct your government the immediate withdrawal of police force from the schools. The AHRC is aware that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the state government and POSCO expired in June 2011 and is yet to be renewed. While the MoU is being examined by the Law Department, your government has announced that it would hand over 2000 acres of cleared land to POSCO when the MoU is renewed. In this backdrop, we wish to recall your attention to the fact that the government going ahead with any project related land work without a renewed MoU would be legally untenable and thus challengeable in a court of law. Further, the people of the state, in particular those who are directly affected by the implementation of the project, and not just the state's bureaucrats, the state cabinet and the POSCO, has a right to know the terms of the MoU, should it be renewed. The 2000 acres being handed over in the name of 'public interest' are claimed as government land, acquired by the Industrial Development Corporation of India (IDCO). To this end, 60,000 trees on this land have already been cut, and an estimated ten times more trees will be cut in total. Deforestation may only benefit the POSCO and indirectly the government from the revenue generated from the project. The environmental impact caused by the massive deforestation is no 'public interest', nor is it 'public responsibility' to bear the long-term consequences of deforestation. The bureaucratic notion and reasoning that there is public interest for the land to be cleared for the POSCO project has no factual basis. The decision is legally challengeable and would not even stand the basic test of reasonableness and proportionality in a court of law. The AHRC is certain that your government has sought and obtained appropriate legal advice on this matter. The government has in fact been misusing the term 'public'. Forestland claimed as government land is actually public land, which forest dwellers, farmers and adivasis have been depending on for generations. Just like the air, sea, or river, those who depend on the forest for their survival, have so far shared it. They have their own rules for its use, protection and conservation, set over generations. The AHRC is certain that your government is aware of the reports made by the Committees who have studied the project. It is disheartening to learn that the government choose to ignore the claims under the Forest (Right) Act 2006 of the forest dwellers upon the land now proposed to be used for the project, on the guise that there were no such claims. This issue has not been properly reviewed so far. If the government insists that the project is for 'public interest', it should give priority to the real public - people living and depending upon the forest. In that case, the people can decide upon their ‘public interest’, and take responsibility for it. The conversion of public land to government land, for private interest supported by the government, without considering the potential of the brunt it will definitely cause upon the livelihood of the people who depends on the land, and its impact upon the environment appears to be ignored by the government. For instance, the Casuarina tree, known as a cyclone protector in the area, is being cut down. Regardless of their opinions about the POSCO project, all the villagers are concerned about their protection from natural disasters in the future. This act alone depicts how contrasting is the alleged cause 'public interest' and the mode of implementation of the project. The AHRC has reported the government's failure to protect villagers from criminals hired by construction company, who attacked the villagers while they were peacefully protesting in September 2011 against the road construction related to the project. To our information, your government has failed to investigate the matter or punish those responsible for committing crimes. Further, it is shocking to know that the company has already started taking law into their own hands, that too by employing criminals to silence opposition, which no government worthy of its constitutional mandate to the people should have allowed to happen. The fact that there has been no action against this by the government reiterates the villagers and general suspicion that the government favours POSCO as against the people. We are concerned that the recent decision to resume construction and forest clearance for the POSCO project will lead to further human rights violence against the villagers. In light of the above, the AHRC requests your government:
1. The government should respect the right of all villagers affected by the POSCO project to participate in decision-making and obtain their informed consent before going ahead with the project, as well as respecting their right to land and food; 2. The government should respect public opinion concerning the POSCO project, particularly of those directly affected by the project; 3. The government should not allow any project related land work to be undertaken by POSCO or do similar work on behalf of POSCO before the MoU is renewed; 4. Finally, the government should stop the road construction, land acquisition and cutting of trees until informed consent from the people directly affected by such activities are obtained.
Sincerely, Wong Kai Shing Executive Director Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong Copies to: Minister of Environment and Forests, INDIA Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, INDIA UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate food, SWITZERLAND

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news from the cpi(m)

news from the cpi(m)
November 4, 2011
Press Statement
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Unitedly Protest Price-Hike of Petrol
By announcing yet another price hike of petrol by Rs. 1.80 per litre, the UPA government has once again displayed its shocking callousness at the plight of the people. On the same day the price hike was announced the food inflation rate touched 12.21 per cent.

The government’s deregulation of petrol pricing is responsible for the fuelling of the price hike of essential commodities and inflation. The hoax of the pricing according to the market has been exposed as the international oil prices have fallen considerably in the recent period.

The Polit Bureau calls upon all its Party units to protest against this intolerable burden being imposed on the people. United protests should be launched including mass pickettting.
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Punish the guilty of 1984!

Punish the guilty of 1984!

Printer-friendly version Protest rallies in Delhi and Mumbai marked the 27th anniversary of the state organized massacre of Sikhs in 1984.
In Delhi, the Lok Raj Sangathan and Sikh Forum along with PUCL and PUDR organized a candle light protest at India Gate. Hundreds of people from all walks of life participated in this action. There were the families of the victims of the massacre, including young children. There were youth from the working class colonies of Delhi, who had not been born at that time, but who came forward militantly at the call of the Lok Raj Sangathan to show that they considered the genocide of 1984 an attack on all Indians, and express their solidarity with their Sikh brothers and sisters, and their determination to get the guilty of 1984 punished. There were judges, lawyers, journalists, filmmakers, academics, business professionals, and political activists of different parties and groups. Leaders and activists of the Communist Ghadar Party of India participated actively in the protest.
Protest Rally at India Gate demanding punishment for those guilty of 1984 Sikh massacre
Big banners in English and Hindi proclaimed the sentiments and views of the people.  They announced: "The genocide of the Sikhs in November 1984 will never be forgotten!", "The struggle to punish the guilty of 1984 genocide of the Sikhs shall continue!", "The Indian State is communal, not the Indian people!", "Punish the guilty of 1984 genocide of the Sikhs!", "Down with State terrorism!", "Unite against State organised communal violence!", "An attack on one is an attack on all!", "Communal violence – the favourite weapon of the State to divide people!" and "Why no punishment yet for Congress Party leaders responsible for the genocide of the Sikhs?"
Among the several prominent personalities who participated in this rally were Justice Rajinder Singh Sachar, film maker Shonali Bose, human rights activist Farah Naqvi, lawyers Prashant Bhushan, HS Phoolka and Brinda Grover, social activists and academics Nandini Sundar, Sucharita, Prof. Bharat Seth and Malabika Majumdar, leader of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, Comrade Jasvir Singh, Comrade PK Shahi of CPIML, Dr Pardesi Singh, well known rights activist from Manipur, leaders of the Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha Santosh Kumar and Lokesh Kumar, activists of Purogami Mahila Sangathan Renu Nayak and Chhaya, Prakash Rao, Birju Nayak, Wing Commnader RS Chatwaal and veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayar.
In Mumbai, the Lok Raj Sangathan initiated a protest action at Fort, just outside Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. The protest was supported by the Sikh Forum as well as trade unions of the Railways, airlines, Resident Doctors and others. The protest took the form of a candle light vigil, and thousands of copies of a leaflet condemning the 1984 massacre of Sikhs were distributed. Among the prominent personalities who participated were Dr Matthew Abraham, a prominent leader of the workers unity movement, academic and social activist Dr Sanjeevani Jain, and well known lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani. A large number of Sikhs from the city came forward to participate in the protest.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India considers these actions in Delhi and Mumbai as very significant. They reveal that our people, far from being communal, consider an attack on one as an attack on all, and are determined to carry forward the struggle for justice. The CGPI congratulates the Lok Raj Sangathan and Sikh Forum for initiating these important actions.